Languages – I really miss the Lithuanian language. I may not have been able to speak it fluently, but I enjoyed hearing it and learning new words every day. By the time I left, I could understand quite a bit, and it was fun to practice using it as much as I could. I also enjoyed hearing many other languages all around me every day. It has been hard readjusting to hearing and using only English. Also, this has been somewhat overwhelming…I can actually understand every conversation going on around me in public settings. This has led to feelings of sensory overload. I became so used to not understanding background conversations that now I find myself struggling to focus on one conversation at a time.
Greetings – One thing I love about being home is how nearly everyone greets me in public. I love going on my morning runs and bicycle workouts and having everyone give me a big smile, wave, and “Good morning!” as I pass. I got adjusted to the shy public atmosphere in Lithuania, but I did miss the outgoingness of home.
Church – It is so good to be back in my home churches, but I miss my Lithuanian church families as well. I miss singing praises in the beautiful Lithuanian language and listening to the sermon in two languages at the same time. It was a bit weird for me this Sunday when I only knew two of the songs we sang at church.
The Location Lesson – I believe that God teaches us lessons in one place, then takes us to a new place or puts us under new circumstances so we can build on those same lessons. Now that I am home, I feel a bit out of place. I learned so much in Lithuania and my life took on a whole new look. I matured and became confident in the purpose God gave me there. Now, I have to apply the things I learned there to my life here. Before leaving Europe, I had a fear that I would get home and go right back to the same routine I always had, but I am so happy to say this has not been the case. I am working to maintain all the improvements I made and continue building on everything I learned. However, I notice that I occasionally feel out of place. There are some social settings that make me uncomfortable now, and I no longer instinctively know how to act in the American cultural context. It’s actually a very strange feeling.
New Goals – For anyone who is on Facebook or has spoken with me recently, some of this will be a repeat of what you already know. I am having a bit of trouble knowing what to do with my time now. Next week, I will be starting my summer job at the hospital again, but I still wasn’t sure what else I should do this summer to make good use of my time. So, I came up with a few new goals. First, I am starting to train for a sprint triathlon. I am going to choose a race in the end of August or beginning of September and register for it to give me more motivation to stick to my training. But, so far, I am loving it anyway! Second, I have begun working on two books that I hope to have written by the end of the summer. I am writing one children’s book and one short novel. I will probably only have the rough drafts finished by the fall, but I hope to send them to a publisher at some point. My third goal is to make five new friends this summer (and visit many old ones). I want to continue practicing the lessons of choosing people and being intentional within relationships that I learned during my semester abroad. Finally, I want to accomplish all these goals while still living one day at a time.
These are the main things so far. But, I think I should also take this opportunity to answer the most frequently asked question. A lot of people have been asking if I am jet lagged at all… For anyone who hasn’t already asked this in person, I will answer it for you now. Honestly, no. The only aspect of jet lag that I have noticed is my appetite. I still am not very hungry most of the time and fill up very quickly when I do eat. Other than this, I haven’t had many problems. My sleep schedule adjusted to the time zone immediately. So, this has helped my transition go a bit smoother.